Google had silently introduced
its free SMS chat service in India in March but at that time it was available only to a handful of operators. However, as of Wednesday Google seems to have rolled out the service to operators all across the country. (Source
With the help of this service, customers will be able to send free SMS to mobile phones through Gmail Chat. The receiver of these SMS can reply through their phones and their response will appear as replies in Gmail Chat. Just like the usual Gmail Chat, the SMS conversation through Gmail too will be stored in Chat history. This feature is also available to Google Apps customers.
To keep spammers at bay, Google is offering every Gmail customers a credit of 50 SMS that they can use. For every SMS sent, the credit decreases by one while every reply to the SMS in Chat increases the credit by five. However, the upper cap for the SMS credit at any time cannot exceed 50.
On the exhaustion of the full credit of 50 SMS, Google gives one SMS credit after every 24 hours. For frequent SMSers, there is no formal way of buying credit but one always has the option of sending an SMS from their own mobile number, and increase their credit by five.
This is by no means a new service as many websites such as Way2SMS.com have been already been offering free SMS. However in case of these sites, one did not have the option of replying back to the same SMS. Even Yahoo has been offering a similar SMS service to its Yahoo Messenger users for quite some time.
Moreover, most frequent texters in India already subscribed to SMS packs that start from Rs. 9 to Rs. 49 per month or have apps such as WhatsApp and Nimbuzz to help cut down their SMS bills, so in such scenario it seems like Google is perhaps a bit late to join the party. Nonetheless, given the number of Gmail users in the country, the service is indeed a welcome move.
Though Google claims the service is now compatible with all mobile operators in India, we have reports of users having trouble sending messages to some operators including Airtel. What is your experience? Is the service working/ not working for you? Leave a comment with the name of the operator and the circle of the mobile you tried sending a SMS to, and if it was successful.